McConnell to force vote on EPA carbon regs

Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate GOP blocks voting rights bill Schumer, McConnell spar as GOP prepares to block voting bill Trump has 'zero desire' to be Speaker, spokesman says MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday said he plans to force a vote to stop new Environmental Protection Agency regulations aimed at cutting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

McConnell said he, along with 40 other Republicans, will file a resolution of disapproval against the proposed EPA rule the Congressional Review Act.


EPA published its rule on the new performance standards for power plants — pushing for the facilities to be built with carbon capture technology — last week in the Federal Register. It came out nearly four months after EPA chief Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyOvernight Energy: Company officially nixes Keystone XL pipeline | Government watchdog finds failings, but no Trump influence, in clearing of Lafayette Square Democrats blast Biden climate adviser over infrastructure remarks Democrat predicts 'big fight' over carbon pricing in the Senate MORE announced it would be a core element of President Obama's second-term climate change agenda.

Now, as a piece in the GOP's fight against what they call Obama's "war on coal," McConnell will seek to stop the regulations through the Review Act — a rarely used legislative tool that allows Congress to block regulations from the executive branch.

"The Obama administration appears to be sending signals that its latest regulation is just the beginning in a new, expanded front in its war on coal," McConnell said on the Senate floor on Thursday.

"That’s why I — along with about 40 Republican co-sponsors, including my friend and fellow Kentuckian Rand Paul — intend to file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to ensure a vote to stop this devastating rule."

“We believe the EPA regulation in question clearly meets the definition for congressional review under this statute, and I am sending a letter to Comptroller General Dodaro outlining the reasons why this is so," McConnell added.

Normally a rule must be finalized for a congressional review to be sought. But an aide to McConnell said a vote can happen.

In McConnell's letter to the comptroller general — obtained by The Hill — he say the the EPA's rule limiting greenhouse gases (GHG) from power plants falls under an unusual provision.

"EPA issued the proposed GHG rule under a very unusual provision of the Clean Air Act that gives immediate legal effect to the notice of proposed rulemaking," the letter states.

Despite being a proposed rule, McConnell adds, its publication in the Federal Register has immediate legal impacts on power plants planning to be built.

"Thus, the proposed GHG rule immediately changes the legal landscape for anyone seeking to develop a fossil fuel power plant," he wrote.

"Any company that commences construction on a new power plant after publication of the proposed GHG rule will have to comply with GHG limits that did not apply before that time," McConnell writes in the letter.

Using the congressional review, a senator can force a vote to block a rule within 60 days of it being published in the Federal Register.